Canadian Ice Shelf Collapse in the Canadian Arctic, and Glacier Collapse in the Alps

Water and Ice Research Laboratory, August 7

This extremely warm summer is driving some dramatic collapses: one of the last remaining Canadian Ice Shelves, the Milne Ice Shelf lost 43% of its area (80 km2, greater than the size of Manhattan) in a dramatic collapse on July 31st, compromising nearby ecosystems as well as threatening offshore activities. Contributing factors include well-above-normal temperatures, offshore winds, and lack of sea ice this summer.  In Switzerland, 300,000m3 of ice broke off from the upper part of Turtmann glacier on August 6th, splitting the glacier in two. Locals and tourists were also forced to evacuate regions of Italy near Mont Blanc due to 500,000m3 of ice on the verge of collapse. Repeated and sustained heatwaves will increase the likelihood of such extreme mass loss events in the future.  While the Canadian Arctic is warming at two to three times the global rate, the European Alps are following the same trend, with similar consequences.

Compiled by Amy Imdieke

By Amy Imdieke, Global Outreach Director, and Pam Pearson, Director of ICCI.
Published Aug. 14, 2020      Updated Jul. 12, 2022 3:20 pm